Synagogues Without Jews: see photos. "In 1720, the first Jews to settle in Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas were peddlers and merchants from Holesov, Moravia. They lived peacefully with other minorities and the Protestant majority. And they prospered, exporting skins and wool, managing distilleries and founding a cheese-processing plant, as well as a thriving lumber industry. Following the French Revolution, the kehillah tolerated a broad range of beliefs among the members. Besides supporting the successful yeshivah, they encouraged secular culture and secular schools.From 1820, liberal community leader, Yaakov Diener and other teachers established private schools in the Haskalah spirit, with German as the language of instruction. In addition to Judaic subjects, Jewish pupils studied natural sciences, geography, general history and the works of writers such as Lessing, Goethe and Schiller. Prosperous members of the 300 family kehillah supported a secular school, opened in 1845, with a curriculum that included gymnastics, singing, swimming and skating. Christian aristocrats sent their children to the school. A Jewish secondary school was established in 1860 and the illustrious alumni included the first Jewish lawyer in Hungary, Simon Goldstein, and Samuel Fischer, who founded the world-renowned publicity house in Berlin that still carries his name. Because of the high standards of its many secular and cultural institutions, the Mikulas community earned the epithet 'the Jewish Athens.' After the political reconciliation between Austria and Hungary, Jews could vote or be candidates for election in municipal elections. Two Jewish delegates gained council seats in 1863. In 1865, Isaac Diener became the first of several Jewish mayors; others were Jozef Stern, Maric Ring, and Dr. Mano Steiner.There was much discussion of religious reform in the liberal kehillah, one of the first Hungarian communities to split along religious lines. When the community voted to affiliate with the Neolog (Hungarian Reform) stream, the Orthodox minority seceded and set up an autonomous community, including a separate prayer room and school. Despite the official split in 1864, they were ready by 1875 to overlook their disagreements and, making mutual concessions, they reunited to worship as one congregation in their new synagogue. The synagogue was completed in 1845 at the cost of 42,000 forints. Congregants carried the Torah scrolls through the streets from the old building to the new one. District nobility and town officials participated in the ceremonies.
The synagogue suffered two fires, one in 1878 and again in 1904, when it was nearly demolished. The parnassim called on the Jewish architect, Lipot Baumhorn to plan the rebuilding. Restored, the synagogue became the stateliest structure in the city, artistically one of the most remarkable in the Hungarian kingdom. It was rededicated in 1906.After World War I, there was great interest in Zionism, and the large community building was given for youth activities in this connection. By 1930, the community numbered more than 1000. 1,500 Jews were crowded into the city during the early years of World War II. More than 80% of those who were transported perished. Most of the Jews who returned soon moved away, and today there are not enough Jews for a minyan in Liptovsky Mikulas. In 1980, the synagogue was sold to the municipality. After the Communist demise, in the early 1990s, public-spirited citizens formed a committee to save the building. It received the status of a historical monument and there was a national and international campaign to raise funds for restoration.On July 28, 1991, a special benefit concert was held in the synagogue to support the restoration of historical monuments in the city, including the synagogue. Mikulas Jews, local dignitaries and representatives from the central Jewish community in Bratislava attended. Gentile and Jewish volunteers spent three days cleaning the building and removing debris. For a stage backdrop over the bimah, they painted on a long drape the names and birth years of some of the 900 Mikulas Jewish victims of the Shoah and hung it high on the Ark." [February 2009]
The then Communist local municipality destroyed the cemetery in 1981. Today, just green lawn fills the sites of graves. No book of the cemetery exists, but I photographed of all the matzevot just before the destruction of the cemetery. Source: Fero Alexander, living in Slovakia. [date? before 1997]
Map of Town
Photos of Town
|Last Updated on Monday, 16 February 2009 14:34|